Australian-American Fulbright Program

For sixty-five years, Australians and Americans have been learning about each other through the Fulbright program. This timeline traces key events and developments in the life of the Australian-American Fulbright program, from the negotiation period of the mid 1940s through to the current day.

This timeline has been built by Dr Alice Garner, Consultant Historian to the Australian-American Fulbright Commission, and is one outcome of an Australian Research Council Linkage grant that funded in-depth research into the history of the exchange program. Chief investigators were Professor Diane Kirkby and Professor Dennis Altman (La Trobe University) and Professor David Walker (Deakin University). Linkage partners were the Australian-American Fulbright Commission and the National Library of Australia's Oral History and Folklore Unit. ;xNLx;;xNLx;Sources for the information in the timeline include:;xNLx;*Board minutes of the United States Educational Foundation (1950-1964), the Australian-American Educational Foundation (1964-2000) and the Australian-American Fulbright Commission (2000-);;xNLx;•National Archives of Australia, in particular records of the Department of External (later Foreign) Affairs and Prime Minister's Department (which was the home of the Commonwealth Office of Education before it became a stand-alone federal department);;xNLx;•National Archives and Records Administration (US Archives): in particular Records of the US Department of State, held at the Maryland annexe. ;xNLx;•Records held in the University of Arkansas Special Collections, including the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Historical Collection (CU);;xNLx;*National Library of Australia oral history collection (for audio interviews with Fulbright scholars) and Manuscripts Collection for personal papers of Fulbright alumni and board members;;xNLx;•University records, including University of Melbourne archives of the Fulbright program;;xNLx;•TROVE Newspaper archives (particularly for the 1950s);;xNLx;•Results from survey we conducted of Fulbright alumni (Australian and American);;xNLx;•Interviews with Fulbright alumni and administrators and board members (conducted by Alice Garner);xNLx;•Memoirs and other autobiographical writings by scholars and administrators;xNLx;•Photographs of and by scholars past and present.;xNLx;;xNLx;This timeline is a work in progress. We are interested in sourcing new material, particularly good quality and striking or informative photographs of and by scholars from across the life of the program. If you have something that might help illuminate this timeline, please contact timeline author Alice Garner a (replace the AT with @ - this is to avoid spam) ;xNLx;Thank you.;xNLx;;xNLx;We thank all those scholars, current and past Commission staff, bi-national board and selection committee members and others who have contributed in their various ways to the material featured in the timeline. ;xNLx;;xNLx;The Australian-American Fulbright Commission and Dr Alice Garner have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information included in the timeline. If you have any questions or concerns please contact

1943-01-03 13:53:33

J. William Fulbright enters Congress

J. William Fulbright was elected as a Democrat to the Seventy-eighth Congress (January 3, 1943-January 3, 1945).

1945-01-03 13:01:28

J. William Fulbright elected to U.S. Senate

Fulbright moved to the Senate from the House of Representatives, his term beginning in January 1945. He was reelected in 1950, 1956, 1962, and again in 1968, and served from January 3, 1945, until his resignation December 31, 1974; unsuccessful candidate for renomination in 1974; chairman, Committee on Banking and Currency (Eighty-fourth through Eighty-sixth Congresses), Committee on Foreign Relations (Eighty-sixth through Ninety-third Congresses). It was early in his first term as Junior Senator that he introduced the Bill enabling the establishment of the Fulbright exchange program.

1945-08-06 13:53:33

First atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan

The US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki may have ended the War in the Pacific, but it also shocked many into rethinking the nature of war, nationalism and the role of science and the sharing of powerful knowledge in the post-war world. The atomic bombings had a profound effect on Senator Fulbright and gave impetus to his developing ideas about the possibilities of international educational exchange. He introduced his Bill to the Senate some six weeks later.

1945-09-02 00:00:00

Japanese surrender to Allies

Emperor Hirohito signed an act of unconditional surrender on 2 September.

1945-09-27 00:00:00

First version of Fulbright Bill introduced to United States Congress

Senator J. William Fulbright introduced ‘A Bill to amend the Surplus Property Act of 1944 to designate the Department of State as the disposal agency for surplus property outside the United States, its Territories and possessions, and for other purposes’. The Junior Senator for Arkansas, who had been a Rhodes Scholar in the 1920s, had a vision for an international educational exchange program funded by moneys owed to the US by Allied nations, for surplus World War II materiel. On 27 September he proposed that credits from the sale of surplus property abroad could be used 'for the promotion of international good will through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture, and science.' Two months later he submitted an amended Bill, which proposed that the US Department of State be the sole disposal agency for surplus property located outside of the US. Program funding would draw on foreign currency proceeds of the sale of surplus materials, and so no US dollar appropriations would be required.

1946-01-10 04:33:06

First meeting of United Nations General Assembly

The General Assembly met in London. A week later the Security Council met, and on 24 January the General Assembly adopted its first resolution, concerning the peaceful use of atomic energy and the elimination of atomic and other weapons of mass destruction.

1946-04-12 00:00:00

Senate passes Fulbright Bill with no debate

Fulbright's Surplus Property Amendment had been approved by the Subcommittee on Surplus Property of the Military Affairs Committee six weeks earlier. Now, with Fulbright (a Democrat) having secured Republican support for his measure, he was able to secure unanimous support for this Bill. Before its final approval by the House, he made another amendment, ensuring that a supervisory body (namely the Board of Foreign Scholarships) would oversee the exchange program.

1946-04-20 04:33:06

United Nations officially established

The United Nations was formally created on this date, following on from the approval of the Charter in San Francisco the previous April. On 24 October, the Charter was ratified by the five permanent members of the Security Council and the majority of other signatories, and came into force.

1946-06-07 00:00:00

Lend-Lease Settlement Agreement signed by Australian and US governments

This agreement dealt with Australia's wartime debts to the US government. $US 7 million of the amount owed by Australia to the US was set aside for educational and cultural purposes, and it was this allocation (of $US5 million of it) that would later fund the Fulbright exchange program between the two countries for its first fifteen years. The agreement was officially known as the 'Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia on Settlement for Lend Lease Reciprocal Aid Surplus War Property and Claims'

1946-07-09 00:00:00

Elevation to Ambassadorial status of Australian-US legations

In July 1946, the rank of representatives exchanged by the two countries was raised to that of Ambassador. Australian and United States Legations had been established back in March and July 1940 respectively. On 9 July 1946, the White House announced the elevation of the Legations to embassy status. Australia's first Ambassador to the United States, Norman J. O. Makin, presented his credentials to the US Government on 11 September 1946. The first US Ambassador to Australia, Robert Butler, presented his credentials on 25 September 1946. These two men were involved in the negotiation of the Australian-US Fulbright exchange program in the years to follow.

1946-08-01 00:00:00

Fulbright Act approved by US Senate and signed by President Truman

President Harry S. Truman signed the Fulbright Bill into Law. The Act's official title: Public Law 584, 79th Cong., 2nd Sess., 1946. Amendment to the Surplus Property Act of 1944.

1946-08-01 00:00:00

Australian Commonwealth public servants draw up draft Fulbright exchange agreement

The Commonwealth departments involved in this early drafting and negotiation process were: External Affairs, Postwar Reconstruction, Treasury and the Office of Education.

1946-08-01 21:05:12

Australian National University Established

On this date the Australian Federal Parliament passed the Bill establishing a research university in the nation's capital. However, the first academics to work at the new university did not take up their positions until more than three years later.

1947-01-10 00:00:00

Australian-US discussions begin over use of Lend-Lease Settlement funds

Australian federal public servants in the Office of Education (Prime Minister's Department), Post-War Reconstruction and Treasury began discussing the possible uses of the Lend-Lease funds earlier, in August 1946, but in January 1947, Professor R.C. Mills (Director of the Commonwealth Office of Education) met with Kenneth Holland, Assistant Director of International Information and Cultural Affairs (US Department of State) about the Australian possibilities for the Fulbright Act.

1947-10-08 00:00:00

US Board of Foreign Scholarships' first meeting

The US Board of Foreign Scholarships was set up under the Fulbright Act to oversee the international exchange program. Its first meeting was held in Washington DC.

1947-11-10 21:05:12

Chinese-US Fulbright agreement signed

This was the first ever Fulbright agreement signed. It was with Nationalist China. The landscape changed two years later when China became Communist, and the exchange was suspended until the normalisation of relations between the two countries in 1979.

1947-12-22 21:05:12

Burmese-US Fulbright agreement signed

This was the second ever Fulbright exchange to be established under the program worldwide. Although the first agreement had been signed with China, the first foreign Fulbright grantees were Burmese, among them nursing students associated with famed "Burma Surgeon" Gordon Seagrave's hospital and training school.

1948-01-27 21:05:12

Smith-Mundt Act comes into force

Officially titled the 'United States Information and Educational Exchange Act', this extended the reach of US educational exchange in that it permitted Congressional dollar appropriations for this purpose. However, the aims of the Smith-Mundt Act were different from the Fulbright Act. Information (or propaganda) activities were covered by the Smith-Mundt Act, and the exchanges funded by it were more overtly political than those covered by the Fulbright Act. While the two programs were covered by different legislation and philosophies, there were areas of administrative crossover (and some non-US Fulbright grantees benefited from Smith-Mundt top-up grants), so the distinction was not always clear. This did create problems, of which Senator Fulbright and other advocates of academic exchange were very conscious, and sought to address from time to time. For analysis of this, see: Richard Arndt, The First Resort of Kings: American Cultural Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century (Potomac Books, 2005) Snow, Nancy. "The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948." Peace Review 10, no. 4 (12, 1998): 619-624. Note that both of these authors are Fulbright alumni.

1948-03-23 00:00:00

Philippines-US Agreement signed

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1948-04-23 21:05:12

Greek-US Fulbright program launched

1948-05-17 16:32:06

Senator Fulbright urges resolution of Australian-US negotiations

Concerned about the slow progress of negotiations, Senator Fulbright wrote to Australian Ambassador to the US, Norman O. Makin: 'Information which I have received indicates that your Government has not yet indicated its willingness to sign such an agreement. Because of the importance of friendly relations between our two countries and the great contribution that educational activities authorized by Public Law 584 could make to these relations, I am writing to see if it would be possible for you to stimulate interest in this program in your own country...' Makin, in his June reply, reassured the Senator that there was 'no lack of interest in the programme on the part of the Australian Government'. Source: National Archives of Australia

1948-05-20 21:05:12

US Government stops sharing classified information with Australia

U.S. Government stopped sharing classified information with Australia at this time, on the basis of suspected security leaks (VENONA intercepts). This would not be reversed until the change of federal government in November 1949. It was in this politically sensitive context that Australian and US government officials were negotiating the terms of the Fulbright exchange, and serious differences over other aspects of the binational relationship appear to have delayed the implementation of the program.

1948-06-01 16:32:06

Difficult period in Australian-US negotiations

This was a particularly difficult period in negotiations, with disagreements between Australian and American officials over the binational board make-up, taxation issues, and the exchange rate applying to funds.

1948-09-14 20:41:23

New Zealand-US Fulbright agreement signed

The New Zealand-United States Educational Foundation (trading as Fulbright New Zealand since 1999) was set up by bilateral treaty between the governments of New Zealand and the United States of America in 1948 to administer the Fulbright Programme in New Zealand. New Zealand was the fifth country to join the programme.

1948-09-22 20:41:23

United Kingdom - US Fulbright agreement signed

Australian negotiators saw the UK and New Zealand both sign exchange agreements with the US in the space one week. It would be more than another year before the Australian-US treaty was settled.

1948-10-08 08:53:15

Belgium and Luxembourg sign Fulbright agreement

1948-12-18 00:00:00

Italian-US Fulbright Agreement signed

1949-02-12 20:41:23

Evatt hopes negotiations nearly over

Minister for External Affairs, Evatt, expected to sign a Fulbright agreement on 25 February, but it wasn't to be. It would take another nine months to reach a resolution.

1949-02-12 20:41:23

Acheson rejects Australian changes

Secretary of State Dean Acheson rejected Australian negotiators' proposed alterations to the draft agreement. The main sticking point was the exchange rate to apply to program funds.

1949-03-01 20:41:23

Australian-US negotiations stall

US Chargé d'Affaires Andrew B. Foster wrote at length about the stalled negotiations. Sticking points were the exchange rate and grant taxation questions. There were problems at the same time with the US-proposed Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation.

1949-05-17 00:00:00

Netherlands-US Fulbright Agreement signed

1949-05-25 00:00:00

Norwegian-US Fulbright Agreement signed

The Fulbright Agreement between the United States of America and Norway was signed and entered into force on May 25th, 1949 in Oslo.

1949-06-07 02:22:56

Lend-Lease Settlement deadline passes (without incident)

Official deadline for negotiations to be completed (3 years after Lend-lease Settlement Act) – passes without incident.

1949-06-08 02:22:56

Pete Jarman named US Ambassador to Australia

Pete Jarman's appointment was announced in June 1949, and he arrived in Australian in August, to oversee the last two months of Fulbright negotiations. It was Jarman who would eventually sign the agreement with Evatt in November that year.

1949-09-01 05:17:51

Iran-US Fulbright agreement signed

The Fulbright exchange between Iran and the United States was suspended in 1979 at the time of the Iranian Revolution, and resumed in 2000.

1949-10-01 16:37:19

China: Mao Zedong declares creation of People's Republic of China (PRC)

Mao's announcement ended the civil war between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang (KMT), which broke out immediately following World War II and had been preceded by on and off conflict between the two sides since the 1920’s. The creation of the PRC also completed the long process of governmental upheaval in China begun by the Chinese Revolution of 1911. The “fall” of mainland China to communism in 1949 led the United States to suspend diplomatic ties with the PRC for decades.

1949-10-22 02:22:56

France-US Fulbright agreement signed

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1949-10-22 02:22:56

Australia and US reach agreement

Finally, the negotiators came to an agreement on the terms of the treaty. US Ambassador Pete Jarman had reported to State Department back in early October that 'It is true that, as noted by the Embassy in earlier despatches and telegrams, the Australians have been capricious, uncooperative, and obstructionist throughout these negotiations. At long last, however, they have agreed to our position on all major issues save one -- and on that one our position is so weak, at least in terms of the evidence thus far submitted, that we cannot conceive of an impartial arbiter deciding in our favor.' Thus, he concluded that Americans should accept the current draft. On 22 October, Jarman reported to State Department that the 'Agreement will be signed Saturday November 26, 11:30 a.m. eastern Australian time (8:30 Friday evening Washington time) in Prime Minister's office at Parliament House by Evatt and me. Prime Minister and other Cabinet Ministers prevented by election campaign engagements from attending. No other prominent persons will be present. Press and photographers will be there.' On the same date, Jarman started looking for an American Executive Officer: ‘can Department suggest a candidate? (We know of no qualified American available in Australia.)’ As it turned out, the first Executive Officer would be an Australian. Source: NAA A1361 4/7/5 PART 1

1949-11-03 00:00:00

Egyptian-US Fulbright Agreement signed

The Binational Fulbright Commission in Egypt was established in 1949, and is the oldest and largest Fulbright program in the Arab world. Since 1949 nearly 5,000 scholars have been American Fulbrighters in Egypt or Egyptian Fulbrighters in the United States. (Source: Binational Fulbright Commission in Egypt

1949-11-26 11:00:00

Signing of Australian-US Fulbright agreement

Finally, the agreement came into force. It was signed by the Minister for External Affairs, Herbert J. Evatt, and the US Ambassador, Mr Pete Jarman. The agreement established United States Educational Foundation, which would administer the Australian program from Canberra, following policy guidelines set by the United States Bureau of Foreign Scholarships, and with binational administrative support from the Department of State in the US and the Department of External Affairs in Australia.

1949-12-10 10:00:42

Australian Federal Election: R.G. Menzies becomes Prime Minister

The timing of this election was significant because Minister for External Affairs H.V. Evatt was negotiating the Fulbright agreement during the election campaign and his government's often difficult relations with the US were a frequent target of the Opposition criticism. There was a good deal of press focusing on the alleged reluctance of the Labor government to finalise the Fulbright deal. In fact, the story was more complicated than this, and the archives reveal that Evatt was instrumental in bringing the negotiations to a satisfactory close. He was not to benefit from this, however, for his party lost the federal election. The implementation of the Fulbright agreement was now to be the responsibility of the new Liberal government's Minister for External Affairs, Sir Percy Spender.

1949-12-27 00:00:00

Turkish-US Fulbright Agreement signed

1950-01-09 16:37:19

Colombo Plan first outlined

The idea of a network of developing and donor countries was raised at a conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). The Colombo Plan commenced in 1951 and was repeated until 1980. The beginnings of these two exchange programs are closely intertwined. Percy Spender, then Australian Minister for External Affairs and by default a board member of the United States Educational Foundation, was actively involved in the early stages of this planning. Much later, in 1963, officials in the External Affairs and Commonwealth Education departments compared the Colombo and Fulbright plans and considered the former to be primarily politically motivated (in particular by concerns about communism developing in South-East Asia) whereas the Fulbright program was understood as primarily educational, with 'incidental' political benefits in the form of strengthened Australian-US relations.

1950-02-02 18:35:43

Binational Board of the United States Educational Foundation named

The founding members of the USEF Board of directors were: Americans: Mr Pete Jarman (Chair), Mr Paul J. Sturm (1st Secretary, U.S. Embassy), Mr Doyle V. Martin (3rd Secretary, U.S. Embassy), Mr W.R. Hauslaib (Managind Director, Ira L & AC Berk, in Sydney; US resident in Australia). Australians: Hon. Percy C. Spender (Minister for External Affairs), Sir Charles Lowe (Chancellor, University of Melbourne), Professor G.A. Currie (Vice-Chancellor, UWA)

1950-02-21 18:35:43

First meeting of USEF Board in Canberra

The board met at the American Embassy. One of their first tasks was to appoint an Executive Officer to administer the program in Australia.

1950-04-01 18:35:43

First Executive Officer of Fulbright program in Australia

Geoffrey Rossiter, a Western Australian history lecturer with a Masters degree from Oxford in Modern History, was chosen from a shortlist of eighteen applicants for the position, which had been advertised nationally after the first USEF board meeting. During the war Rossiter had been a RAAF Wing Commander and was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross. In 1946, he was named a Western Australian Rhodes Scholar, following in the footsteps of his older brother Roger who had won a Rhodes in 1935. He guided the scheme through its difficult teething period and remained executive officer until 1965, the longest serving EO in the Australian program's history.

1950-04-28 00:00:00

Korean-US Fulbright Agreement signed

1950-06-23 15:56:30

First Australian travel grant recommendations

The United States Educational Foundation minutes name the first Australian scholars recommended for Fulbright travel grants. They included: Joseph Glover (Geology), Adele Millerd (Plant biochemistry), Bruce Holloway (Plant genetics), Albert ("Bert") Main (Zoology), John Rayne (Physics), Harold Schroder (Psychology), Maxwell Kennedy (Mining engineering), Jack Loneragan (Plant Physiology), Dorothy Munro (History) Michael Waller (Geology), Frederick Chong (Mathematics), Philip Green (Dentistry), Noel Hickey (Dentistry), Frank Shann (Education), Frank Kerr (Physics), William Wileman (Dentistry). [Source: USEF Board minutes, 23 June 1950]

1950-07-26 07:23:20

Australian enters Korean War

The government announced Australia would send troops to fight in Korea. This was part of the United Nations response to the invasion of South Korea by North Korea on 25 June.

1950-08-01 06:56:58

Dorothy Munro, one of the first two female Australian Fulbrighters leaves for Smith College

Dorothy Munro (later Shineberg) was to become a pioneer historian of the Pacific. Her research and teaching upon her return influenced many scholars in Pacific and Asian Studies, including future Fulbright scholars Greg Dening and Jamie Mackie. It was a radical decision to go to the US for further study at this time. As she put it: 'To go to America for further study was an unusual thing for a Melbourne graduate to do in those days. The norm was to go to Oxford— or if the worst came to worst, Cambridge—even if it was only to repeat the last two years of an undergraduate degree there. Anything else didn’t count.' Her two years at Smith had a strong impact on her world view, but, she wrote of her return to Australia: 'Back at Melbourne University after two years at Smith, nobody even asked me what I had done in America—it was too embarrassing to talk about.' She went on to create the first ever course in Pacific history taught in Australia. Source: Shineberg, Dorothy, 'The early years of Pacific history', Journal of Pacific Studies, vol 20, 1996, pp 1-16.

Australian-American Fulbright Program

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